Tuesday Practice Report

The Rebels had two surprise visitors - one welcomed and one not - during Tuesday's practice in the Indoor Practice Facility. Read about it inside.

Deuce McAllister, come on in!

Knucklehead with a cowbell, get the hell out!

The Ole Miss Rebels, as practices intensified for the annual Egg Bowl against Mississippi State, set for 6 p.m. Saturday in Oxford, had a spirited workout in the IPF Tuesday in full pads.

There were, however, two visitors, one who perked the Rebs up, the other who hacked them off.

Former Rebel and New Orleans Saints great Duece McAllister stopped by to give the Rebels a morale boost.

Shortly after, a young man/moron with a cowbell came through the open bay doors at the South end of the IPF. A few clangs of the obnoxious noisemaker and OL Josh Tatum and some other OL chased him out of the building.

And that was just the start of the workout.

Coach Houston Nutt, as he did last week leading up to the LSU game, got the players' juices flowing early with a bull-in-the-ring, one-on-one session.

"If we will bring the intensity level to practice the rest of the week and to the game Saturday that we had today, we will be fine," said Co-Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader.

Dave Rader

"Frankly, after the letdown of losing the LSU game, we were concerned about what mindset we'd see, but our guys showed no signs of that today. They came with a purpose of mind today that I was pleased to see."

Rader is extremely impressed with the Mississippi State defense and understands the Rebs have their hands full in the Egg Bowl.

"Truly, I think they have the best defense we have seen. Alabama is very good, as is LSU, but I think Mississippi State is more aggressive," Rader noted. "They cause a lot of turnovers. They knock a lot of balls down at the line of scrimmage, which is a concern for us. We had one tipped and intercepted against LSU that cost us dearly.

"They have good depth as well. We are trying to find some weaknesses and we don't see many."

MSU Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz, according to Rader, has the Bulldogs humming.

"Their aggressiveness and toughness stands out," he continued, "but he also has all sorts of blitzes you have to prepare for. It makes you stay up at night. They cause a lot of headaches with what they do.

"We need to get our running game going like we did at LSU, but not too many people, including Cam Newton, have run that well against MSU. We are going to have to make sure we block every assignment and we make good decisions on our cuts. Of course, we also have to hang on to the ball."

Random Notes:

* McAllister was there to lend some moral support to the Rebels on his way to doing some analysis for CBS for the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa Friday. He spoke to the Rebels last Friday night in Baton Rouge and delivered a simple message, which he reiterated today. "It's real simple. Just play. Just play with everything you have, mentally and physically," he noted. "That's all you have to do." Deuce is a veteran of winning and losing in the Egg Bowl. In fact, as a Rebel, his teams were 2-2 against MSU - winning in 1997 and 2000 and losing in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, Deuce ran for a TD, caught a TD and threw a TD in the Rebs' 45-30 victory.

* On the injury front, two key Rebels are under the microscope this week. Senior DT Ted Laurent has a pulled groin muscle and was limited Tuesday. He dressed out in full gear, but did very little. Senior WR Markeith Summers also dressed out, but was limited due to a pulled hamstring. Everyone else appeared ready to go. Those two remain on the questionable list.

* With Melvin Harris suspended and Markeith "iffy," the Rebel receiver corps will most likely be Jesse Grandy, Lionel Breaux, Ja-Mes Logan, Korvic Neat, Derrick Herman, Summers if he can go, and possibly Terrell Grant and Jared Mitchell, both bigger bodies who have been moved this year to WR from safety and have limited game time thus far.

Markeith Summers

"Melvin has been our leading receiver, so somebody will have to step up. We think we have some candidates - some of the same ones we have been rotating, ready to step up, but we'll see Saturday how big a loss Melvin is," David added.

* Redshirt freshman OL Michael Brown, who started one game this year before injuring his back, has been going through a series of shots to see if he could avoid back surgery. They have not worked, so Brown will be operated on December 22nd in Jackson to repair two disks.

* It appears the Rebels are going to stick with both their starting lines, if Laurent is able to play, they used against LSU when they take on MSU. If Ted is OK, it will be DEs Jason Jones and D.T. Shackelford and DTs Jerrell Powe and Laurent. If Laurent can't play, look for senior LaMark Armour to take his place since senior Lawon Scott is out for the year with a broken foot sustained against Tennessee. Junior Justin Smith will also be in the rotation. . . . On offense, the starters are likely to be LT Bradley Sowell, LG Alex Washington, Center A.J. Hawkins, RG Jared Duke and RT Bobby Massie.

* This will be the last practice report of the week. All practices the rest of this week will be closed and there will be no more media opportunities until after the game.

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